[Taxacom] Singulare tant(r)um [off of: Species names]

Ian Kitching i.kitching at nhm.ac.uk
Tue Feb 19 14:25:59 CST 2008


The genus Data is [sic] a group of moths. It's a real pity it is currently a junior synonym of another genus. The prospects of species such as Data matrix and Data bais would be very hard to resist...
 
Cheers,
 
Ian
 
 

Message: 1
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2008 19:44:47 +0100
From: "Spies, Martin" <spies at zi.biologie.uni-muenchen.de>
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] singulare tant(r)um [off of: Species names]
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Message-ID: <47B9D21F.9050802 at zi.biologie.uni-muenchen.de>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=windows-1252; format=flowed

Richard Jensen wrote:

>... family names, when used as collectives, take a singular verb ...
>
and

>If the form of the noun in its original language were used to
>decide the appropriate verb, then I would have to say that "Los Angeles
>are a city on the west coast."
>
As further support for Dick's argument, consider examples like: 'The
United States is one of the world's largest countries by total area.'
Wording such as 'X-ae results as the sister taxon to Z-ae in the tree,
with monophyly of either clade supported convincingly' is perfectly
appropriate, as single units are concerned rather than the respective
multitudes of their constituents.

If you're looking for an awkward combination of plural and singular
that's widespread, how about 'data is ...'? As such 'data' (hopefully)
never consist of a single datum, why not question the justification for
this usage instead? Who ruled when and on what grounds that 'data' can
be combined with singular verb forms only?

Cheers,

--
Martin Spies
c/o Zoologische Staatssammlung Muenchen
Germany




------------------------------

Message: 2
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 09:42:17 +1100
From: Bob Mesibov <mesibov at southcom.com.au>
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Justifying species?
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu, rjensen at saintmarys.edu
Message-ID: <1203374537.5839.11.camel at bobs-dell640m>
Content-Type: text/plain

Dick Jensen wrote:

"It is important, under many existing laws, for endangered taxa to be
recognized as species and the greater the justification for declaring a
taxonomic entity to be a species, the more likely it is to be eligible
for protection."

Interesting you raise that point. In the case of the Apteropanorpidae in
the paper I cited, nearly the entire distribution of the family is
within very secure reserves: national parks largely within a World
Heritage Area. Almost as a footnote, the authors point out that one of
the sampled populations of a widespread species is on a mountain
"surrounded by pasture and timber plantations. There is no corridor
linking this population to others in the family... ...preservation of
all populations is essential because together they represent at least
six million years of evolutionary history..." etc etc.

It's clear from the rest of the paper, however, that the authors were
defending their erection of two new species on biological, not political
grounds.
--
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery
and School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
(03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195

Australian millipedes checklist
http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/zoology/millipedes/index.html
Tasmanian multipedes
http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/zoology/multipedes/mulintro.html
Spatial data basics for Tasmania
http://www.utas.edu.au/spatial/locations/index.html
Biodiversity salvage blog
http://biodiversitysalvage.blogspot.com <http://biodiversitysalvage.blogspot.com/> 
---





------------------------------

Message: 3
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2008 15:03:18 -0800
From: Curtis Clark <jcclark-lists at earthlink.net>
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Species names
To: taxacom <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Message-ID: <47BA0EB6.4040607 at earthlink.net>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8; format=flowed

On 2008-02-18 09:14, Richard Jensen wrote:
> Some have argued that we must use a plural verb because Fagaceae is a
> Latin plural. My reply is, We are not speaking Latin. We are speaking
> English. If the form of the noun in its original language were used to
> decide the appropriate verb, then I would have to say that "Los Angeles
> are a city on the west coast."! That really grates on my ears and nerves.

Its full name was originally /Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula/.
/Reina/ is singular.

On 2008-02-18 10:44, Spies, Martin wrote:
 > If you're looking for an awkward combination of plural and singular
 > that's widespread, how about 'data is ...'? As such 'data' (hopefully)
 > never consist of a single datum, why not question the justification for
 > this usage instead? Who ruled when and on what grounds that 'data' can
 > be combined with singular verb forms only?

One of the quickest ways I've found to distinguish information
technology folks from old-school biologists is that the IT folks say
"data is" and the biologists say "data are".

Geographers speak of "datums".

And then there's "media", its singular "medium", and its plural "medias".

--
Curtis Clark                  http://www.csupomona.edu/~jcclark/
Director, I&IT Web Development                   +1 909 979 6371
University Web Coordinator, Cal Poly Pomona



------------------------------

Message: 4
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 10:33:44 +0100
From: "Josef Greimler" <josef.greimler at univie.ac.at>
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] (no subject)
To: <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Message-ID: <000601c872da$85555c20$e5838283 at greimler>
Content-Type: text/plain;       charset="iso-8859-1"

Interesting points on verb conjugation by Dick Jensen.
Looking at the problem from a German language background I agree with case
(1) and disagree with case (2). I cannot imagine anyone saying: "Die
Fagaceae besteht aus holzigen Pflanzen." Everybody would say: "Die Fagaceae
bestehen (!) aus holzigen Pflanzen ...".
I think that we always have an extended subject in mind when using a familiy
name. In my view something like "members of Fagaceae" or "the family of
Fagaceae" applies to both cases.
Cheers, Josef

Josef Greimler
Systematic and Evolutionary Botany
Faculty Center Botany, University of Vienna
A-1030 Vienna, Rennweg 14
AUSTRIA
Tel. 0043 1 4277-54145
Fax 0043 1 4277-9541

Shades of past Taxacom debates.
I know many think of family names as plurals because that's exactly what
they are in Latin. Tod Stuessy and I have debated this point and there
was an extensive exchange here several years ago. I have not altered my
view that family names, when used as collectives, take a singular verb.
Here are two different uses:
1. Fagaceae occur on at least five continents. (the subject here is
implicity "Members of Fagaceae"; no one occurs on all five continents)
2. Fagaceae consists of woody plants. (here, I use a singular verb
because the reference is to the family as a whole).
Some have argued that we must use a plural verb because Fagaceae is a
Latin plural. My reply is, We are not speaking Latin. We are speaking
English. If the form of the noun in its original language were used to
decide the appropriate verb, then I would have to say that "Los Angeles
are a city on the west coast."! That really grates on my ears and nerves.
Cheers,
Dick J
Richard Jensen, Professor
Department of Biology
Saint Mary?s College
Notre Dame, IN 46556
Tel: 574-284-4674



josef.greimler at univie.ac.at




------------------------------

Message: 5
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 11:41:49 +0100
From: "Spies, Martin" <spies at zi.biologie.uni-muenchen.de>
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] (no subject)
To: TAXACOM <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Message-ID: <47BAB26D.70000 at zi.biologie.uni-muenchen.de>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed

Josef Greimler wrote:

> Looking at the problem from a German language background I agree with
> case
> (1) and disagree with case (2). I cannot imagine anyone saying: "Die
> Fagaceae besteht aus holzigen Pflanzen." Everybody would say: "Die
> Fagaceae
> bestehen (!) aus holzigen Pflanzen ...".

The facts remain that:
1) not everyone writes it that way - whether in German, English or any
other comparable language; and
2) the problem is solved by omitting the article, as in the example I
gave earlier.

The example you gave shows precisely that a verb in the plural form is
NOT logical in such contexts. Whether in German or in English, 'The
Fagaceae consist of woody plants ...' is illogical, because the
(multitude of) plants in family Fagaceae ARE, but do not (all, i.e. each
and every plant) CONSIST of woody plants. Instead, 'Fagaceae consists of
woody plants ...' is logically appropriate. Q.e.d.

> I think that we always have an extended subject in mind when using a
> familiy
> name.

Sorry, but I contest that, and would like to leave authors the freedom
to express by using either singular or plural exactly what they have in
mind in each particular instance.

> In my view something like "members of Fagaceae" or "the family of
> Fagaceae" applies to both cases.

Not when, e.g., clades are discussed and compared, as in the example I
gave yesterday.

--
Martin Spies
c/o Zoologische Staatssammlung Muenchen
Germany




------------------------------

Message: 6
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 13:44:55 +0100
From: Laurent Raty <l.raty at skynet.be>
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] (no subject)
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Message-ID: <47BACF47.9040708 at skynet.be>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8; format=flowed

Same in French... A plural article makes turning the plural of the word
used for the parts into a singular word used for the whole, almost
impossible. (Note that, linguistically, this is a very different process
from cases like "Los Angeles", where the resulting name is a city, not
at all a group of angels.) Omitting the article entirely is easily done
in English, but would definitely sound odd for a family name in French -
cladist jargon at best. Generic names are regularly used without an
article, though.

(This has interesting philosophical implications, btw, as this means
that the language I speak could have a direct impact on whether I would
be naturally prone to accept treating something like "Fagaceae" as an
individual.)

In the context of a single particular species, I'd write "une fagac?e"
(French and singular), in preference to "une Fagaceae" (Latin and
plural). With animal families, this would translate in, e.g., "an
icterid", rather than "an Icteridae". I don't know if there would be a
possible similar English construction for plant family names...?

Laurent -


Josef Greimler wrote:
> Interesting points on verb conjugation by Dick Jensen. Looking at the
>  problem from a German language background I agree with case (1) and
> disagree with case (2). I cannot imagine anyone saying: "Die Fagaceae
> besteht aus holzigen Pflanzen." Everybody would say: "Die Fagaceae
> bestehen (!) aus holzigen Pflanzen ...". I think that we always have
> an extended subject in mind when using a familiy name. In my view
> something like "members of Fagaceae" or "the family of Fagaceae"
> applies to both cases. Cheers, Josef
>
> Josef Greimler Systematic and Evolutionary Botany Faculty Center
> Botany, University of Vienna A-1030 Vienna, Rennweg 14 AUSTRIA Tel.
> 0043 1 4277-54145 Fax 0043 1 4277-9541
>
> Shades of past Taxacom debates. I know many think of family names as
> plurals because that's exactly what they are in Latin. Tod Stuessy
> and I have debated this point and there was an extensive exchange
> here several years ago. I have not altered my view that family names,
>  when used as collectives, take a singular verb. Here are two
> different uses: 1. Fagaceae occur on at least five continents. (the
> subject here is implicity "Members of Fagaceae"; no one occurs on all
>  five continents) 2. Fagaceae consists of woody plants. (here, I use
>  a singular verb because the reference is to the family as a whole).
>  Some have argued that we must use a plural verb because Fagaceae is
> a Latin plural. My reply is, We are not speaking Latin. We are
> speaking English. If the form of the noun in its original language
> were used to decide the appropriate verb, then I would have to say
> that "Los Angeles are a city on the west coast."! That really grates
> on my ears and nerves. Cheers, Dick J Richard Jensen, Professor
> Department of Biology Saint Mary?s College Notre Dame, IN 46556 Tel:
> 574-284-4674
>
>
>
> josef.greimler at univie.ac.at



------------------------------

Message: 7
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 10:07:09 -0300 (ART)
From: D?bora Clivati <deboraclivati at yahoo.com.br>
Subject: [Taxacom] Articles
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Message-ID: <736784.90253.qm at web56309.mail.re3.yahoo.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1

Hello taxacomers,

Could anyone send me any of this articles:

Szumik, Cuezzo, Goloboff and Challup, 2002, An optimality criterion to determine areas of endemism, Syst. Biol. 51

Szumik, Goloboff, 2004, Areas of endemism. An improved optimality criterion. Syst. Biol. 53

Ronquist, 1994. Ancestral areas and parsimony Syst.Bio. 43


Thanks in advance,




D?bora Clivati
  Mestranda - Taxonomia Vegetal
Universidade de Mogi da Cruzes - UMC
Laborat?rio de Sistem?tica Vegetal - sala 21.16
Av. Dr. C?ndido Xavier de Almeida Souza, n.200
CEP 08780-911 - Mogi das Cruzes - SP - Brasil
Tel.: +55 (11) 4798-7000 ramal 7313
http://www.umc.br/~vmiranda
deboraclivati at yahoo.com.br

      
---------------------------------
Abra sua conta no Yahoo! Mail, o ?nico sem limite de espa?o para armazenamento!

------------------------------

Message: 8
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 22:24:04 +0900
From: "Christopher Taylor" <gerarus at westnet.com.au>
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] (no subject)
To: <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Message-ID: <000001c872fa$b34d09a0$6401a8c0 at oem>
Content-Type: text/plain;       charset="iso-8859-1"

> In the context of a single particular species, I'd write "une fagac?e"
> (French and singular), in preference to "une Fagaceae" (Latin and
> plural). With animal families, this would translate in, e.g., "an
> icterid", rather than "an Icteridae". I don't know if there would be a
> possible similar English construction for plant family names...?

In English, you could refer to "a fagacean" or "a fagaceous plant".
However, both of these sound a little awkward compared to "one of the
Fagaceae". Simply referring to "a Fagaceae" would sound all wrong,
though.

I would agree about the ability in English to refer to higher taxon
names as either a singular or plural. I've always thought of it as
depending on whether you're referring to the taxon as a unit compared to
separate units ("Fagaceae is a smaller family than Asteraceae"), or as a
collection of smaller units ("Fagaceae are trees found in temperate
climates"). I've been trying to think of other words that may also be
singular or plural - one example that comes to mind could be terms such
as "tribe" or "race" when referring to groups of people - "The Swedish
race originates from the north of Europe" vs. "The Swedish race are
great lovers of herring", for instance*.

*My apologies to any Swedish readers.

    Cheers,

        Christopher Taylor

Christopher Taylor
Dept of Environmental Biology
Curtin University of Technology
GPO Box U1987
Perth 6845
Western Australia

http://catalogue-of-organisms.blogspot.com <http://catalogue-of-organisms.blogspot.com/> 

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------------------------------

Message: 9
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 17:42:17 +0100
From: "Paul van Rijckevorsel" <dipteryx at freeler.nl>
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] (no subject)
To: "taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Message-ID: <00f901c87316$dc6d3b40$2b4c4451 at magnifica2>
Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed; charset="Windows-1252";
        reply-type=original

From: "Richard Jensen" <rjensen at saintmarys.edu>
Shades of past Taxacom debates.

I know many think of family names as plurals because that's exactly what
they are in Latin. Tod Stuessy and I have debated this point and there
was an extensive exchange here several years ago. I have not altered my
view that family names, when used as collectives, take a singular verb.
Here are two different uses:

1. Fagaceae occur on at least five continents. (the subject here is
implicity "Members of Fagaceae"; no one occurs on all five continents)

2. Fagaceae consists of woody plants. (here, I use a singular verb
because the reference is to the family as a whole).

Some have argued that we must use a plural verb because Fagaceae is a
Latin plural. My reply is, We are not speaking Latin. We are speaking
English. If the form of the noun in its original language were used to
decide the appropriate verb, then I would have to say that "Los Angeles
are a city on the west coast."! That really grates on my ears and nerves.

***
There is another sense in which Fagaceae can be used in the singular, namely
in "Fagaceae is a botanical name, formed according to Art. 18 of the ICBN".
See also Art. 18, Ex. 6 through 8 (i.e. in the Vienna Code; these were Ex. 5
through 7 in the St. Louis Code)

The situation in English (and related languages) differs in that the English
equivalent (which can be substituted for it) for Fagaceae is "Oak family"
(or "Beech family"). As in "this species belongs to the Fagaceae" is
equivalent to "this species belongs to the Oak family".  So, the following
statements are closely comparable:
* "The Oak family consists of woody plants".
* "Fagaceae consists of woody plants".
* "The family Fagaceae consists of woody plants".

In "Fagaceae occur on at least five continents" the name is used in
its strict (Latin) sense.

This does not happen in French, which uses "les Fagac?es" as the French
equivalent, with "Fagac?e" as the singular?

Paul






------------------------------

Message: 10
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 10:15:27 -0700
From: "Michael A. Ivie" <mivie at montana.edu>
Subject: [Taxacom] Family names are plural.  Period
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Message-ID: <47BB0EAF.9050906 at montana.edu>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed

I can understand why people have trouble with this, as in normal speech
and in many written works, the usage is simply incorrect, to the point
that it looks like it is OK.  Kind of like if enough people in a city
are rude, it becomes acceptable to be rude.

There are examples of this double situation with originally English
words, where a word can sometimes be used as either singular or plural
depending on the context, but in other cases cannot:

"The fish is green/ The fish are green." are both correct, depending on
context.
However, "The fish are running this week." is always plural.

"The deer is dead/ The deer are dead." Both may be correct.
"The deer are abundant this year." is the only correct form.

Just to totally confuse everyone, "fishes" and "deers" can both be used,
but only when referring to a collective of more than one species of the
group.

Given this mess that English presents, it is no wonder that even native
speakers have problems.

However, in the case of a family group name in Zoology, used in its
original formal Latinized construction, the fact remains that it is "a
noun in the nominative plural."  There are no ifs, ands or buts about
this, the name is "a noun in the nominative plural."  This statement is
written in English, and this text in English is an Authorative Version
(Art. 87).  Therefore, the idea that "we are writing English, not Latin"
is irrelevant.  The Code is not written in Latin.  The definition of the
family group name when writing in English is "a noun in the nominative
plural" and this is IS HOW IT IS TO BE USED IN ENGLISH.  Germans writing
in German can make up their own rules, the French have an official
version of the Code to use, but in English, the fact is set -- it is a
plural.   It must not, therefore, be treated as singular in English when
used in this form.  If the user wants to treat it as singular vernacular
English, and look literate, s/he should anglicize it, and then use it as
a singular, with normal English pluralization using a terminal "s".

Examples:
"The Tenebrionidae are widespread."
"The tenebrionids are widespread."
 "That tenebriond is black."
NEVER "That Tenebrionidae is black."
Note also that the Latin name is a proper noun in English, and is
capitalized, but the anglicized version is not, and is treated in lower
case.

Forming a sentence where recognizing the family name as plural is
awkward is IMPROPER SENTENCE STRUCTURE, not a problem with the noun
status.  Rewrite the sentence to be correctly formed, and you have
solved the problem.  This can be proved by diagramming the sentence,
recognizing the fact that the family name is a nominative plural, and
then looking at the word connections.  It will be immediately obvious
that the sentence structure is the problem, not the status of the noun
(surely all the English native speakers remember how to diagram a
sentence? Seventh Grade English?)

Accepting the use of plurals from other languages as singulars in
English is a case of "dumbing down" and should be fought at every level
in the sciences.  Scientists do not (or should not) accept "larvas,"
"femurs," "data" as a singular (in this case a truly stupid concept),
and we should not use the singular case for a noun in the nominative
plural.   Argue all you want that you like it that way, but it is simply
wrong.

Mike





------------------------------

Message: 11
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 10:27:10 -0700
From: "Michael A. Ivie" <mivie at montana.edu>
Subject: [Taxacom] Diagraming Sentences
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Message-ID: <47BB116E.9060505 at montana.edu>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed

In answering 2 sets of very quickly posed questions on diagraming
sentences in English, see:

http://wonder.k12.ar.us/hellmer/diagramming.htm

--
__________________________________________________
NOTE NEW ADDRESS (As of 01/01/2007 DO NOT USE OLD P.O. BOX ADDRESS):

Michael A. Ivie, Ph.D., F.R.E.S.

For Postal Service, FedEx, UPS or Freight Delivery:

Montana Entomology Collection
Marsh Labs, Room 50     
Montana State University               
1901 S. 19th Ave
Bozeman, MT 59717-3020           
USA                                             

(406) 994-4610 (voice)
(406) 994-6029 (FAX)
mivie at montana.edu




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